Rookie Fulmer on a roll with 11-0 win over Jays

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer

Detroit – James McCann couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“(Michael) Fulmer came up to me a little while ago and said, ‘Thanks for hanging with me, I didn’t have my best stuff tonight,’” McCann said. “I said, ‘You gave up two hits; an infield single and the other kind of caught (Ian) Kinsler off guard. Two infield singles. And you didn’t have your best stuff?’

“He’s really got it going right now.”

Yes, he does. And so do the Tigers.

Fulmer pitched six scoreless, two-hit innings Monday and the offense pounded out 15 hits, putting the Blue Jays to rout, 11-0 in the first of a three-game series.

“The hitting and the pitching both kind of clicked,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It was one of those rare nights when you can relax.”

BOX SCORE: Tigers 11, Blue Jays 0

Fulmer is doing things very few rookie pitchers have ever done in a Tigers uniform. Mark Fidrych didn’t do it. Justin Verlander didn’t do it.

Only John Hiller back in 1967 and Victor Santos in 2001 have dominated like Fulmer has in his last three starts.

He’s now posted three straight scoreless outings. Going back to his start against the Rays on May 21, he’s riding a streak of 22⅓consecutive scoreless innings.

Hiller (28⅔ innings) and Santos (25) are the only rookies in Tigers history with longer scoreless streaks.

“He’s really been dominant,” Ausmus said. “He’s been our best pitcher over the last two and a half weeks. I don’t know that I would have predicted this, but he’s done an excellent job.”

During the streak, Fulmer’s allowed seven hits with 16 strikeouts. Over the last four starts, his ERA is a ridiculous 0.32, with a 0.64 WHIP.

Not bad for a guy with just 11 starts above Double-A ball.

“It’s been fun,” Fulmer said. “The team is on a roll right now. The offense is doing great. The defense did a tremendous job and as always, credit to Mac (McCann) for putting the right fingers down at the right time.”

He wasn’t as sharp as he was in his two previous starts, if you want to nitpick. His fastball command was spotty and he walked a batter in each of the first three innings. But he never got rattled and he found ways to get himself right.

“The change-up did a great job for me,” Fulmer said. “I was throwing it in any count, to righties or lefties – it didn’t matter. My fastball command was a little out there. I am not happy with the three walks. But all that matters is there is a W next to the Tigers’ name.”

Fulmer has allowed three hits or less in his last three starts. No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney got the two infield hits for the Jays.

"He’s got a really good arm,” Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters afterward. “He’s got a really good life on his fastball and that razor-blade slider. He’s impressive.”

The Tigers, all of a sudden, have won four straight and five of six.

Since May 16 – the night when Ausmus ripped off his warmup jacket and threw his hat in protest of umpire Doug Eddings and Cameron Maybin came off the disabled list – the Tigers are 12-7 and have crept over .500, 29-28.

“When you look at the streaks, this has been kind of the high point,” McCann said. “The pitching is clicking on all cylinders. The hitting is clicking on all cylinders. But even more, the energy that surrounds the team, the smiles that you are seeing – this has been fun these last few games.”

About that offense.

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago the Tigers’ heavy right-handed lineup was dreadfully impotent against left-handed pitching? Through May 15, they were hitting just .209 against lefties, with a .603 OPS.

That was then.

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From May 16 on, they hit .313 with a .904 OPS against left-handers, including the weekend sweep of the White Sox, and their trio of left-handed starters.

Those numbers took a bump Monday after they assaulted Blue Jays’ lefty J.A. Happ. The Tigers lit him up for six runs and six hits over five innings.

McCann blasted a 429-foot, three-run home run beyond the bullpens in left-center in the second inning to get the party started.

The Blue Jays gave the Tigers a gift of a fourth run in the inning. Kinsler singled. Happ balked him to second. A passed ball on catcher Russell Martin sent Kinsler to third and he scored on a wild pitch.

Justin Upton, who banged out a pair of hits and knocked in three runs, hit a two-run homer to right field in the third.

The Tigers batted around and scored three runs of Gavin Floyd in the sixth. Upton, Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera had RBI singles.

They capped it with two runs in the eighth off Drew Storen courtesy of a J.D. Martinez double.

It was an ugly night all around for the Jays. Center fielder Kevin Pillar misplayed a liner by Nick Castellanos into a triple and let another single by Castellanos get by him for a one-base error. They also had the balk, a passed ball and three wild pitches.

Anibal Sanchez, who lost his spot in the Tigers rotation last week, made his first relief appearance and pitched a clean eighth inning.

“This has been a fun stretch,” Fulmer said. “I love this team. I think we’re going to stay hot.”

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